WORDS: Alex Caslano
There’s an electric pulse flowing though Glasgow, and while it usually emanates from the city’s electronic producers and clubs, this time it belongs to a beat-driven guitar band called WHITE. From their blinding live show to their achingly slick music videos, WHITE have exploded onto the scene with undeniable magnetism. And of course, online media and press have been quick to get in on the action, with the hype building week on week alongside regular references to Bowie, Franz and LCD Soundsystem.
But while the Glaswegian five-piece definitely channel the energy, danceability and song-writing skill of all of the above, WHITE was an opportunity to wipe the slate clean for its members and try something entirely new: “It was a blank canvas, but also a chance to play with expectations – to be a band unafraid of colourful music, bright clothes, gloss and variety” says frontman Leo Condie. “It handed us the inkling of a manifesto; to speed-out of any comfort zones, run with song ideas and see what happens.”
You certainly get a sense of creative release when listening to recent single ‘Blush’, coming on like the sleaziest, most hedonistic night out you’ve (n)ever had. With an up-tempo disco beat and swaggering bassline, it rolls effortlessly onto the dancefloor. “Nailing the huge dance sound was part of the plan from day one, because we all wanted this to be a band you can't help but move to” confirms Condie, “but the songs aren't written as extended jams - they're short, sharp rushes. We make sure there's always something different happening at WHITE shows so the crowd don't know what's coming next.”
Check out the videos for recent singles ‘Blush’ and ‘Future Pleasures’ below, as well as the full interview with Leo, talking more about the WHITE concept and how the band developed their sound:
SynthGlasgow: The last few months seem to have been really explosive for WHITE, with mainstream media coverage and multiple festival appearances. How would describe the journey over the last year? Has it surprised you how quickly things have moved forward?
WHITE: It’s been great. Festivals have been the perfect chance to bring the world of WHITE to the world of humans, and bring our pink neon, distressed-factory-chic approach to the sunny fields of Britain. Since we played Great Escape in Brighton things have been flying, and audiences seem to be loving the music and the spectacle.
SG: We read that the idea behind the name WHITE was this concept of a blank canvas; the ability to start fresh. Were you all interested in pursuing a similar sound when you first started writing together? Did it click immediately?
WHITE: It was a blank canvas but also a chance to play with expectations – to be a band unafraid of colourful music, bright clothes, gloss and variety. It handed us the inkling of a manifesto; to speed-out of any comfort zones, run with song ideas and see what happens. Van Gogh spoke about not being scared of the blank canvas - that the blank canvas should be scared of you. Suits us!
SG: We love the aesthetic you’ve adopted which really shines in the videos for ‘Future Pleasures’ and ‘Blush’. How heavily have you been involved in the visual side of things and how WHITE it presented?
WHITE: It grew over the first few months together, sharing images, films, artworks, buildings and anything visual we loved, but it was totally developed and fixed in place by us before we launched the band. We wanted everything in place – the sound, the name, the image, the logo – before we even told our close friends about it; the mothership landing from outer space kind of approach. We’ve now developed an almost telepathic understanding between each other of what works and doesn’t for the visuals…
We had a lot of the same jumping off points when we first got together, but mainly we wanted to aspire to that huge, clubby, subby sound of LCD Soundsystem/Soulwax levels, mixed with bits of post-punk, Parliament, etc, but still very consciously writing "songs". We’d all been getting to grips with analogue synths as well - the Juno-60 and MS-20 really let us focus our sound.
SG: You’ve been likened or at least referenced next to acts such as LCD, Franz and Bowie – that’s quite the accolade. What would you identify as the common thread linking WHITE with these artists and how have they influenced you?
WHITE: There’s a certain type of artist who can mix pop with an experimental approach, still strive for innovation and artistry, whilst getting people to dance and sing along. It’s such a thin tightrope to walk and we are still just tapping it gently with one foot, but it’s the ultimate musical aspiration.
SG: You had a resoundingly positive reaction to your headline live show earlier this summer and it seems that WHITE are very comfortable on stage. Were the songs written with particular focus on the live environment?
WHITE: Nailing the huge dance sound was part of the plan from day one, because we all wanted this to be a band you can't help but move to; but the songs aren't written with extended jams or 86 bars of synth solos in that live sense - they're short, sharp rushes. We make sure there's always something different happening at WHITE headline shows so the crowd don't know what's coming next.
SG: Naturally, we’re excited to know what’s coming next for WHITE and can’t help but ask whether an album may be on the horizon? Will we be seeing you in any more headline shows before the end of the year?
WHITE: We have plans, so many plans...keep ears & eyes on the WHITE Facebook.